Friday, 31 January 2014

Finished Arbitrator

For the last week I've been running around the country causing mayhem and mischief. Just before I left, I finished the Adeptus Arbites I'd been working on, but hadn't got the time to take some photos.

Now, this was another experiment with photography. I used the my iPad mini's "HDR" option to take the photos.

I also used a second lamp which I brought down from my parents. My usual light was aimed straight at the miniature, and the second light was used as an overhead light. Unfortunately, I didn't have a daylight bulb in the second light and I think it's made the photos a bit too yellow.

I also think that some of these photos have highlighted a couple of brush slips I'd made that I hadn't spotted with the naked eye. I may have to pop back to this chap and touch up his paint job at some point, but for now, as far as I'm concerned, he's done and going away in the box.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

GoblinAid - last chance for buying figures

This is the final week to buy GoblinAid figures from Ral Partha. These are figures sculpted to help Kev Adams after a break in at his house where he was stabbed.

You can find a link to the figures here:

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Making an Imperial Beastman: Part 1: Finding bits and assembly

When I originally set out to try and make some Imperial Beastmen, I decided to try and document the process to give a good 'step by step' guide for what I'd done to put them together. My test model has been finished some significant time now, but I still haven't finished my tutorial / step by step / warning for future generations. Until now.

Well, not right now, because at the time of writing, there is a massive terrifying white space beneath this text, rather than what you're reading, which is full of deranged ramblings and badly taken photos. That's the magic of the internet. On the subject of badly taken photos - while my photos are still pretty poor, I can now see that back when I started this project, they were absolutely terrible! So, please be understanding of some of the ropey earlier photography.

Selection of Bits

In order to make an Imperial Beastman, you first need to source your parts. For my kit bash, I used Ungor bodies, Gor heads and horns, and Catachan arms. I chose the Ungor body over the Gor body as it has much less in the way of Chaos iconography, so it is much easier to work with. Advanced modellers who are comfortable with scraping off iconography and using green stuff to resculpt bits of a kit may want to stick with Gor bodies. Likewise, if you are doing Chaos worshipping Beastmen for use as cultists or similar, the Gor bodies will do just fine. The Catachan arms are well-muscled and fit in with the Beastman's general proportions. I used Gor heads for the classic goats head and horns, as the weedier Ungor heads just didn't inspire me.

If you are a Guard player, you will probably already have a big pile of assorted other bits and pieces, such as grenades, pouches and purity seals which will help up the "40K-ness" of the model. On this example, for instance, I added a couple of grenades to his belt at the back, although I failed to take any photos of this at the assembly stage.

Buying the parts

I thought it worthwhile to mention that there are a few ways of sourcing your parts which don't involve you buying three full infantry boxed sets from your local Games Workshop store or the GW website. The first option is to look at a discount retailer such as Dark Sphere or Wayland Games. I've used both in the past and have found both to be reliable. You should be aware, however, that Games Workshop is moving a large portion of its range (including the Catachan) to direct only sales. Some stores may be able to order them in for you, but will not be able to offer you as big a discount (or in some cases, any discount at all).

Either of these options do leave you with a large collection of parts that you aren't using for this conversion. Now, for some, this may not be the end of the world - you can just put them in your bits box for future use. I was certainly tempted before the Catachan went direct only to pick up a full Battalion box and save everything that wasn't a pair of arms for future conversion projects. Don't under-estimate how much you can get for a bit pile of leftover bits on ebay, either. I'll cover advice on how to do that in a separate post.

For conversions like this, however, I would recommend sites which sell bits. For converting large squads, when you need a lot of the same sort of thing, Hoard o' Bits in the US is one of the best sites for that sort of thing - offering things like "all the arms out of this box" or "all the bodies out of this box" - perfect for what we're doing here. If you're doing a more individual conversion, then you're likely better off using Bitz Box or Bits and Kits. If all else fails, hit ebay - but you will generally find that prices there are a little higher without a lot of bargain hunting.

Putting the bits together

This is an incredibly easy kit bash to do. The parts basically fit together well, although if you are dealing with a set of Catachan arms which both hold on to the lasgun, you may have a little more work on your hands. In my case, I went with the easy option of one hand with a gun, and one hand with a knife.

So, after cleaning up all the parts, I glued the body to the base, and the arms to the body. Meanwhile, I glued the horns onto the head. This was my first rookie error - I did not do a "dry fit" and did not realise that the pony tail on the head was going to cause me incredible problems painting the right arm.

I then glued the head to the body. You will notice that there's a teeny bit of a gap between the head and the horns, which will be really rather obvious once under-coated.

I used liquid green stuff to fill in the gaps that were around. I use clay shapers to make sure I've got the stuff into the right places. I prefer it to a brush as its easier to clean, and I feel like I have a little more control, although that may just be preference. While it looks messy, it's really fine once you undercoat. You'll also notice I've realised that the arm was not in a good place and pulled it off again. You will find it really hard to pull pieces off if you use polystyrene cement (AKA plastic glue) - super glue will actually provide a weaker bond in these cases, which is actually advantageous for correcting mistakes. I've discovered this accidentally due to my wife's allergy to polystyrene cement fumes, but there have been a number of projects since where I've been incredibly glad of the ability to pull an arm off again without damage.

And here we are, ready for undercoating. You'll also see another excellent trick my wife taught me here - lollipop sticks. I bought mine from Loynds, but since I bought from them, they now sell the sticks as Yolli. This has the added advantage of selling an assortment of sugar related goods, which resulted in me ordering honeycomb in industrial quantities.

Distraction of sugar based goods aside, a tiny drop of super glue secures the small part to the stick, fine for painting, but also light enough that it's easy to pull off once your painting is finished. You'll need to touch the join up a little, but you will have a lot fewer problems with hard to reach spots.

So, that's how to find the parts for and assemble your Imperial Beastman. I'll be making a separate post shortly covering how I painted mine.

Monday, 20 January 2014

I am achieving things!

This was a very busy week for me, but despite that, I've managed to get a whole bunch of stuff done!

I've snipped Collodi's tab and cleaned up the edge of his base ready for pinning and gluing. Meanwhile, I've started assembling the second ten Guardsmen for the start of the Hobby Progress Challenge 2014. This is one of those things I have to do in little bits and come back to because cleaning up flash is one of the dullest things in the world.

I've finished assembling Nicolai, and he's now attached to a resin base. He's a Joker faction model for Eden. I've started base coating him, but I need to put in a second coat. Once the base coat is on, I'm planning on basically using washes and inks to add all his colour. I'll be curious to see how that goes.

The Arbitrator is now painted, and I've moved onto basing him. I'm just waiting for the basing material to dry so I can paint it, and he'll be done!

And finally, the water effects have dried on my Wicked Dolls. I've also tried to improve my photography lighting a little with this shot, so I'd like a little feedback - is it much better than the quick shots above? Is there anything else I could do to improve this more?

I have a painting lesson with my wife booked up at Golem Painting Studio next week, so alongside trying to finish assembling my Guard, I need to decide what I'm taking up to paint and make sure its prepped and ready for painting in plenty of time.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

1,500 point battle against Codex Space Marines: Working out Storm Troopers

So, with the turning of the New Year, I decided to head down to Dark Sphere's new shop and gaming centre to get some 40K in. I decided that now I have two fully painted Storm Trooper squads, I wanted to try out deep striking large squads of them to cause mayhem in the back field, as historically I've had a lot of problems projecting my force into my opponent's side of the battlefield.

1500 Pts - Imperial Guard Roster

HQ: Company Command Squad
Medi-pack; Regimental Standard; Lascannon; Astropath; 2 Bodyguards; Master of Ordnance; Officer of the Fleet

Hull Heavy Flamer; Extra Armour; Hunter-killer Missile

Troops: Infantry Platoon
Platoon Command Squad
Meltagun x4

Infantry Squad
Meltagun; Autocannon; Commissar

Infantry Squad
Meltagun; Autocannon; Commissar

Conscripts Squad
20 Conscripts

Troops: Veteran Squad
Flamer x2; Grenade Launcher; Demolitions

Elite: Storm Trooper Squad
10 Storm Troopers; Plasma gun x2

Elite: Storm Trooper Squad
10 Storm Troopers; Meltagun x2

Elite: 5 Ratlings

Fast Attack: Valkyrie Assault Carrier

Heavy Support: Leman Russ Demolisher

My opponent was in the process of changing his Dark Angels over to being Codex Space Marines. His forces consisted of a tactical squad on foot, a tactical squad in a rhino, some scouts, some Sternguard in a Razorback with his commander, a Devastator squad, then a Storm Raven and two Storm Talons.

I was a little worried about this. I'd skimped on the Hydra, and my Valkyrie isn't well suited to putting holes in other flyers - particularly not three of them with pretty heavy firepower themselves!

We got the standard objectives mission, and I deployed my Command HQ on the left flank in their Chimera, one squad on top of a building to get some good lines of fire, the conscripts wrapping the Demolisher to protect it from assault, while the second infantry squad took the right flank.

His Sternguard, HQ and Razorback went on his far right flank, with the foot Tactical squad in the rocks in the middle, with the Devastators in some ruins with the Rhino and second Tactical squad hidden behind the ruin.

He then put a Scout squad with sniper rifles into the ruins on his far left flank.

Meanwhile, my Ratlings found a nice spot to shoot some pesky power armour. We then remembered to roll for night fight and even remembered to use the rules - but we then forgot to use Warlord traits. I am totally going to write myself out a cheat sheet at this rate.

The conscripts advanced up the field, heading towards an objective in the ruins. I was worried about how much fire they would be able to weather without having an independent character with them to prop their leadership up.

On my left flank, I felt a bit nervous and isolated, with few good targets available for the command HQ lascannon without moving and forcing it to snap fire - so I hit the smoke launchers.

The Guard on the ground floor of the building advanced a little into the building, but left the heavy weapon stationary to allow it to fire accurately.

A good choice, in the end, as the Devastator sergeant ended up taking a lucky autocannon shell to the face.

Play passed to my opponent, and his Razorback advanced and proceeded to blow the Chimera to tiny pieces, smoke or no smoke! The bodyguards didn't make it out of the explosion, but everyone else piled out of the wreckage.

I advanced my command squad onto the board from reserve, where I'd left them by mistake. Rookie error, I know. You'll also notice my opponent had managed to knock a hull point off the Demolisher.

The Valkyrie roared onto the field and ineffectively threw some fire about doing nothing in particular.

The first Storm Trooper squad with lots of melta guns dropped down in between the Razorback and the tactical squad. Looking back, I'm not sure this was the best idea - they weren't quite in a good place to do a lot of damage to either squad, and I was uncommitted to sorting out either unit properly - although keeping them back from the Tactical Squad was wise, as it meant that running back would take them far away from the objective they were heading towards.

The conscripts advanced up to the objective, and the "mysterious"-ness resolved itself as a shooty fire nexus of some kind - allowing me to re-roll 1s to hit.

I took this photo of the Tactical Marines. I assume it means I got a casualty or two. Maybe I should take better notes!

Unfortunately, at this point, one of the Storm Talons decided to turn up and "Have Words" with the Storm Troopers.

The surviving Tactical Marines also turned around to express their displeasure about being shot in the back.

The other Storm Talon decided to do something about the Valkyrie, and the Rhino advances...

The firepower definitely took its toll on the Storm Troopers. They tried to pull themselves together to do something useful but were shot to pieces before they could do anything else of note.

In return, my second Storm Trooper squad decided to put a more significant hole in the Tactical Squad. Team Storm Trooper - shooting Space Marines in the back since M40...

The Valkyrie decided it was in a bad place, so ran off the board, dropping the Veterans on the way. They scattered badly, only just surviving, with one of them ending up as a casualty.

Lets see how this shooting goes...

Ah, that's much better than the last set. Although, sadly, it shortly went south as the Marines charged the Storm Troopers down and cut them down to a man after the Storm Trooper Sergeant's challenge with the Marine Sergeant ended badly, and the rest of the squad panicked and fled, being cut down as they ran.

The Rhino then exploded spectacularly (probably of Demolisher), causing some quite significant damage to the tactical squad inside it, before an assortment of crossfire whittled them down further.

At this point, a massive wall of flying death finally turned up, the Master of the Fleet finally delaying him no longer...

He also brought a friend to help deal with the pesky, pesky Demolisher...

And lo, was there much, much cursing over the survivability of the Leman Russ chassis.

And bloody vengeance was wreaked on the veterans, causing them to flee into the cover of the dank pond.

The surviving Tactical Marines carefully got into the ruins - and discovered they had a sabotaged objective. Cleverly, they stayed a level below the objective - within 3 inches, but immune to any explosions from the objective.

The Valkyrie pottered back on and shot up the Storm Raven for no damage. I forgot that its missiles are Ordnance and so fired both at full ballistic skill, but fortunately, given my rules mistake, it did little but scratch the paint...

The command HQ spread out a little bit to better survive the oncoming storm...

A Storm Talon came over to say hello to the infantry squad.

Flyers pass each other, criss-crossing the battlefield.

The Leman Russ was finally wrecked, I think by the Devastators - the Valkyrie came around behind the Storm Raven, opened up with the multilaser, and it all just bounced off...

I don't remember if they went to ground or got pinned, but the Veterans weren't going anywhere!

The surviving infantry squad advance through the building to take a pot shot at the Storm Talon... (Although sadly, the difficult terrain leaves them too far away to claim the objective!)

And the melta gunner gets that lucky hit he needs - the Storm Talon plummets to the ground in flames!

The command HQ cower out of sight in the depths of the ruins while the Razorback advances on their position. Only three survived the massive hail of fire from the flyers!

And at this point, more or less, the game ended as we rolled for it not to continue. We both held one objective, no-one had Line Breaker or Slay the Warlord, but he had First Blood from destroying my Chimera, so narrowly carried the game!

If only my Veterans had rallied earlier or not fled in the first place, I could have drawn with Line Breaker! If only I'd advanced my squad up earlier, or they'd got a better difficult terrain roll, I'd have taken a second objective and won...

But . . .

I do feel I had a lot of learning points from this game - while there were points I was unlucky, there were also bad mistakes I made. Remember that squad out on the far right flank? They did practically nothing all game and were miles from an objective. The squad in the centre could have advanced on the objective earlier had I been minded to.

Both I and my opponent played this one pretty cautiously - there were units that did little, but also, in turn, took very few casualties. It was like the forces were reluctant to engage and risk heavy casualties, which is an interesting feel to a game - actually relatively realistic in many ways to a lot of real engagements.

The Storm Troopers did pretty well in causing casualties, but were pretty quickly wiped out in turn - the need to deep strike into open ground does penalise them a little. I still definitely have more to do with them in terms of learning how to use them effectively.

Army list wise, I do need some more units to better deal with a flyer heavy list. The Hydra is very anti-flyer specific, which is a downside when you're trying to trim points for other things. It can be very ineffective if your opponent isn't bringing any flyers or skimmers. Also, the "stock" Valkyrie doesn't have much firepower - it is primarily a troop transport. I'm not sure about it's merits as a troop transport, either. I've not been having the greatest luck with shoving people out the back at high speed - is there a time to consider hover mode?

In general, it was a very enjoyable, close fought game, and I'll be glad to play the same chap again.